This is for Sue Vincent’s photo prompt
Snow had fallen gently all day, but at nightfall it stopped. Inside the house, they listened to the silence and shivered. Not one of them had dared set foot outside since the whispering began. Nothing entered the house on the river; the electricity didn’t work and the phone line was dead. Batteries were flat and signals were silent. They were not certain what they had done, but the whispering rippled through the fur of the trophies littered throughout the house, and something glittered in their glass eyes. In the kennel, the dogs howled until they let them out. Now they were silent, gone, swallowed up by the malevolence of the forest.
They sat huddled together before the hearth, watching the flames and wondering how long the wood would last. The whispering would stop, they said, the forest had no hold on them, not really. In the morning they would leave. They kept their guns ready, feeling safer with the comforting steel in their hands, and when the first bottle of whiskey was finished, the sharp prick of fear was dulled, laughter returned, and they pretended that their prison was no more than a power outage.
They were sleeping when the grey light of dawn began to glow with an orange light. They woke, not to the sound of whispering, but to the angry crackle and roar of flames and the acrid smell of soft furnishings burning. With cries of fear, they fled the burning building. And the forest was waiting for them.
Charli Mills asked us to write about libraries this week for her 99 word flash fiction challenge.
She ran her finger along the spines of the books on the shelves.
Read it, read it, readitreaditreaditreadit…
Her finger ran out of books and found a door at the end of the shelf.
She shrugged. This was a public library. She tugged on the handle and opened the door. A man, bald, glasses, seated at a desk, raised his eyes.
“Sit,” he said and pushed a book across the desk. “Read that.”
“It might teach you how to find your way home.”
She turned. The door clicked closed. She tugged on the handle. It was locked.
A piece of flash fiction for Sacha Black’s challenge on the theme of Trapped. I called it Free, just to be awkward.
photo ©Roman Eisele
There used to be comfort in watching the river flow, the sun on the water, listening to the sounds, of birds singing and the wind in the leaves. I used to come here often when things weren’t going right, when words hung in the air between us and I needed to let them settle before I could face you again. Now you are gone, your words, harsh and gentle packed away or simply swept up with the dust of your passing. There was no more need to run to my hideaway for comfort, you said. No more tears to dry in the soft wind from the sea. I was free to be what I wanted to be, you said. No more constraints, complaints. I was free.
Sitting by the river, listening to the blackbird, nothing reaches me. I see and hear but it touches no nerve, sends no chord singing. I was free, you said as you set your sights on some far horizon where I would not be. But you closed the door on tomorrow, left me with the debris of a discarded past. The door is closed; the past a jagged, tangled, barbed mess. Free, you said. The word still rings in my head as I listen to the blackbird and hear only a reedy noise falling into the well at the world’s end.